Tropical aromas

The late afternoon air is quite suddenly full of the intense aroma of rotting flesh.  It wafts across the garden in an almost visible cloud and settles around us.  Quite a contrast to the subtle scents that most usually fill our warm tropical evenings this one demands immediate attention.  I grab my camera and let the drone of flies lead me to the newly emerged flower of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius.

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Amorphophallus paeoniifolius also known as Elephant Yam due to the size of the underground tuber.

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Occurring from India to New Guinea as well as in tropical parts of Australia this bizarre plant is dormant through the dry season, producing its solitary flower in response to rainfall.  A single large spadix topped by a fleshy, foul smelling wrinkly knob with a spathe surrounding the entire flower.  Carrion flies and beetles are attracted to the smell and perform a valuable service as pollinators.  The Green Ants (Oecophylla sp) on the spathe appeared to be feeding on dead insects, they are not recorded as pollinators.

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Before returning to the house I treated my nose to a breath of Gardenia ‘Wild Wings’ (our accidental hybrid) followed by a whiff of  Bloomfield Penda (Xanthostemon verticillatus).  Olfactory balance easily restored.

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5 responses to “Tropical aromas

  1. Delightful comments dear sister!

  2. The Am. paeoniifolius is a fascinating plant, albeit unpleasant aroma! Always enjoy your posts Barbara.

  3. Olfactory balance – Perfect. Puts a smile on me dial.

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